Email Questions… Virginity is a pile of horse manure?

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It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and really sifted through various emails from readers and fellow bloggers to answer some questions publicly, so sorry for the delay!  We’ve just been b-u-s-y, and that’s been good!  Lot’s of things going on that just take a lot of mental energy, and little time for finishing up posts in draft (or the topic has gotten stale… so some things that seemed a good idea get skipped).

One of the hardest questions I’ve received (for me to answer anyway) was about Lori Alexander’s post regarding men preferring to marry women who hadn’t had sex, had no tattoos, and no debt (especially college debt).

I liked her post, it echoed a few of mine where I touched on the same subjects of virginity and tattoos.  I did think about posting my thoughts agreeing with her, however coming on the heels of her extremely popular post, it just didn’t seem right at the time – coming from someone who met all those things myself when we married.  It would have been hard to write something like that without sounding like it was coming from a place of superiority, in other words.

Concerning Lori’s post, yes, I believe many men probably do prefer the ideal maybe theoretically, but the issue seems so complicated with how so many men choose to marry the exact opposite these days, it’s confusing to me.  What they are thinking, I’m not sure, but I do know that it’s still the norm for men to not necessarily value women who meet those 3 criteria, and seem to be very happy to marry outside them.  It’s very possible to me that marrying a woman who is a virgin, tattoo-less, and debt-free just isn’t important to them at all, because the opposite is so acceptable in our culture.

Many men hold those personal preferences and feelings deep inside, though, so perhaps her post is correct in that most men really do desire a woman with those traits, but due to our hedonistic culture that promotes having no morals and values, they settle for what they can get.  With us in our marriage, my husband has told me more than a few times in these 12 years that he knew I was different, and cherished me because I was innocent in those things.

I did read several articles bouncing off of Lori’s initial post, where different Christian female authors completely degraded the value of being a virgin.

To me that was beyond awful, and it made me think of my daughter and how these are the women writing the books that will be in Christian circles for years to come.  So the next generation of daughters will be growing up with Christian female leadership literally teaching them their virginity on their wedding night is nothing but a pile of horse manure.  This fact was so devastating to realize and to try to come to terms with, that our religious or Christian culture has fallen so far away from biblical truth, that this is what our leadership is espousing.  A lot of my staying silent was just trying to take in all that, and accept that this is where maybe the majority of Christians seem to stand.

From Christian author and blogger, Sheila Gregorie

“is it a good idea to wait until you’re married to have sex? Yes, it is. It’s certainly what God wants, but I believe He wants that for our good, not because He’s just making a rule.

That being said, 

virginity is not the be all and end all.

And, in fact, ultimately virginity means nothing.

It’s just a pile of horse manure.”

What a condemning (and self-damning) comment.

So as I was reading the responses and attitudes of the Christians I’m at least aware of, it took me aback to see how just pointing out those truths enrages women to the point of disgracing themselves in making anti-biblical public statements as Sheila and others have done.

So…  I think I stayed silent because I knew I had met all the criteria of being a virgin, tattoo-less, and debt-free, and it just felt so strange seeing all the different responses (both the positive and negative) and comparing them with what we experienced in our marriage.

Yes, me being debt-free when I married was a definite plus for my husband.  Having no tattoos was a visible symbol to him of my being so young when we married, and sheltered in a sense from corruption.  It also revealed to him my growing up with lovingly protective and honorable parents who prevented me from getting one, even after I was an adult.

But by far, my being a virgin for my husband was probably the single most crucial thing to our married life and how it impacted us for the good.  There’s even been recent studies showing how important a wife’s virginity (or low partner count) is for the health and happiness of her future marriage!  This is not to say that non-virgins can’t receive grace and forgiveness from Christ or go on to have good marriages and sex lives with their husbands.  But it is just undeniable how much better it was that I didn’t have a sexual history of encounters that loomed over us as we became one flesh and started a vibrant, unencumbered sex life.  I knew this right away when we started having sex, and knew that it was good that I didn’t have prior experiences affecting me differently.  Coming to the marriage bed with a clean slate paved the way for only good, positive and loving experiences, in other words.  And it felt so freeing.  It was intense sex without any guilt.

Out of the 3 preferences Lori listed, it seemed strange to me that the most important one was the most reviled in even our *Christian* culture!

Virginity used to be something so treasured and valued.  It was a beautiful gift a woman gave to her husband, and not only a gift, but as Sigma Frame recently pointed out (that I was not aware of in this manner), was an actual blood covenant that God designed to bind two people together in a deeply supernatural way.  No wonder how it’s proven over and over again in studies that women who marry as virgins tend to have happier marriages, or be much less likely to cheat on their husbands.  In my opinion, it’s becasue the bond is sooooo strong, and that coupled with the love, attraction, and sense of building a life together helps you survive later hard times, but that’s just my opinion.

In biblical times, virginity on the wedding night, as Lori’s post encouraged, was so treasured that the couple would purposefully consummate their marriage on white sheets so that they could take them out to show the family the next day.

A young bride’s purity and innocence sexually was celebrated and something that gave her honor – honor in her marriage privately, but also honor in their community publicly because she kept something sacred for her husband and for God.

Ironically, we live in a society that actively shames virgins (especially males), and instead of our Christian brothers and sisters coming to the defense of virginity and purity, we see their real thoughts on the issue.  That “ultimately virginity means nothing… it’s just a pile of horse manure.”  What a long way we’ve come from what was biblically lived out, honored, and celebrated.

Hopefully this kind of answers the reader’s question.  I’m not sure why I stayed silent except that I felt to say something when I actively met all 3 criteria would be viewed as looking down on the women who didn’t.  At the same time, the values should be defended and upheld when anyone (but especially Christian leaders) call our values “horse manure,” which is why I’m saying something now.

The next most interesting question was “What do you think of women being in ministries?

I’ll answer that another time since this post has gotten fairly long, but it is a very good and relevant question for our times.

Thank you for reading!  I’m curious to know what readers or other bloggers think about this issue… do men actually value women with those three traits as better options for a wife?  How does one explain the prevalence of married couples who didn’t meet (especially) the virginity preference?

 

 

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Blessings in the Interruptions

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My husband snapped this picture in the morning before he left for a special assignment… said it was too cute to miss.  Recently, our beautiful girl has decided waking up VERY early is just the thing to do 😉 and I’ve been letting her stay up with me so I can continue with some time to read the Bible and pray.

What I would have considered an interruption has become such a beautiful blessing of extra time to cuddle with her and enjoy alone time with her.  I usually get her some chocolate milk, and coffee for myself, and sit back down where she stays quietly reading one of her books or her little Christmas story Bible (sooo cute!!!) and gives me another 30 minutes to an hour to read and pray.  Our boys were a little too rough and rowdy to have done this (and I tried LOL) so having a sweet, gentle girl is a nice change 😀 !  I love how different they are.

In the book, The Mission of Motherhood, this quote recently stood out,

“How do we make the commitment to give the area of motherhood over to God as a sacrifice of worship to him?

We yield our personal rights into his hands.  We give up our time and expectations to him – and also our fears and worries about how we will manage.  We trust him to take care of us and our family.  We let him redirect our thinking and expectations and adjust our dreams.  And we wait in faith to see the fruit of our hard labor in the lives of our children, knowing that he will be faithful to honor our commitment to him.”

I consider that early morning time – a time of peace and a rare stillness that falls over the house when everyone else is asleep – my time to replenish and really focus on God and His Word.  I can see how it could be called my “Me-Time,” or be something a friend would say I have a “right” to.  And I get it – having that time not go as I planned due to a fussy baby means mentally or emotionally giving up this “right.”

We’re all about “rights” as women in this day and age.  Whether it’s the “right” to some alone time, the “right” to some pampering, or even the “right” to complain (yes, I’ve heard this!), it seems we live a chronic state of feeling we deserve certain circumstances or treatment.  Since mothers usually do spend a lot of time serving, I think we have this expectation that we should receive a form of “payment” in return for all our efforts.  But that’s just it – a real sacrificial love doesn’t demand (or even expect) payment or retribution for things lost like time and energy.  Is alone time or being pampered inherently bad?  Of course not 🙂 but it can be if we view them as though they’re owed to us because we “sacrifice so much.”

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Loving our children in such a way that we try to re-frame these interruptions, or messes… or accidents… into opportunities for blessings or “divine appointments,” as Clarkson calls them, is such a dramatic difference in perspective.  I admit this is something I have to routinely call myself back to in keeping in focus.

*

“Greater love has no one than this,

that one lay down his life for his friends.”

*

Clarkson goes on to describe God’s design for motherhood as comparable to what Jesus described in John 15:13.  Mother’s in many ways, are called to figuratively “lay down their lives” for their children.

This means that even when we don’t feel like it, we choose to “serve” them by getting up with them or helping them get back to sleep. ❤

It means that even when it’s the millionth time that week that we’re cleaning the kitchen floors because babies and toddlers eat so messy, that we choose to do it anyway.  ❤

It may mean SO many different changes and sacrifices made toward goals, careers, dreams, or life plans in ensuring they’re getting what they all need from us.

Something I’ve been thinking about, and something that has been brought to the forefront as we’ve had more children, is the “cost” of motherhood.  How deep is that cost I don’t know.  I’m sure it differs for each family, and certainly when considering how many children a mother has, but it is a topic very interesting to me when thinking about how much a woman gives up (yet also gains) when living out the role of a mother?

If anyone has any ideas on this topic I’d love to hear them!

Stephanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Updates & Homeschooling!

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We’ve had a lot going on since school started!  We decided to start homeschooling with our oldest, to give him more freedom and a better environment to learn through adventure and doing.  His grades were excellent, all A’s and one 89 this last 9 weeks, but only getting to have 20 minutes for recess (which was sometimes not even outside if it was a little wet or cold), 25 for lunch, and sitting there for hours and hours just wasn’t working, he was starting to strongly dislike school – even though he was good at it!

I spent some time looking online to find if there were other boy moms who had solved this issue of their boys needing more time to play and learn through movement (and less teacher criticism), and found this woman’s amazing blog Building Boys!

Having 3 boys herself, Jennifer Fink intimately understands that being in the typical school environment, with all-female staff who sometimes don’t understand themselves how hard it is for boys and label them “problem children,” can break a boy’s spirit and make him not even want to try at academics in the later years.

Perhaps needless to say, spending seven hours in a day an environment that squelches his natural instincts and disrespects his interests has not exactly engendered a love of education in my lad.

Two years ago, his re-entry after winter break was so tough for him – and so heart-breaking for me – that I wrote a Washington Post essay worrying about the effects of school on his spirit. I wrote:

Re-entry after winter break has not been easy for him. The rules and restrictions of school – Sit Still. Be Quiet. Do What You Are Told, Nothing More, Nothing Less. – have been grating on him, and it shows. His teacher recently emailed me; she’d noticed a change in his behavior (more belligerent, less likely to cooperate) and wanted to know if there was anything going on at home.

My guess, I said, was that he was upset about having to be back in school after break. I was right.

The lack of movement and rigid restrictions associated with modern schooling are killing my son’s soul. (Read More Here)

On that note, switching to homeschooling has been AMAZING.  It’s like a night and day difference, too, with his attitude and emotions at night (he was starting to cry a lot, not wanting to go back the next day – just heartbreaking for us as parents not knowing what to do)!

But now his classes only last until lunch!  He gets to do a woodworking class that’s part of the curriculum I chose in which his OWN DAD is his teacher (he’s so stoked)!  He gets to actually learn an instrument in music class, instead of having to stand there for 45 minutes listening to a lecture and singing what he called “baby songs” (they really were nursery rhymes).  We even went on our first field trip this week as a family to the planetarium since we were studying about the earth, sun, and moon in our sciences classes this week!

And the best part???  Absolutely NO HOMEWORK!!!!!  No more having to do an hour of homework after he’s already been in school for 7 hours.  That hour, having to help him and sometimes re-teach him what they learned during the day so he could do it, was sooooo hard for our family.  The baby would often be screaming and wanting to be picked up or play with her oldest bubba, and our 2nd son would also be trying to play and distract him.  They love him so much, and just wanted to play with him a little before dinner.  Now, they get to play with him so much more, and it’s beautiful to see the creative games they’re coming up with that incorporates all of them together.

It’s also solved our problems with my husband’s schedule in that he was only getting to see our oldest for 1 hour in the mornings (he works afternoons through evenings and comes home after their bedtimes).  NOW our son gets to see him for 6-7 hours a day, and have him as a teacher!  The flexible and relaxed feel of teaching my own son is just incredible, how different from feeling pressured and anxious in having to force 20+ students to understand math concepts and move all at the same pace – I’m not sure how teachers handle that.

If anyone reading this has experience with homeschooling, please let me know!  I’m currently reading a couple of good books that are teaching me how to make it the best experience I’m able to, but I’d LOVE to hear from other families how it’s been (or even not) worked for them.  The good and the bad issues, what to expect in the future, etc.

Thank you for reading!

Stephanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letters from Mentors: Supporting Your Police Officer Husband

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Mine is bottom right, taken a few years ago

About a month ago, I had a dream that my husband had already passed away, and that I was living day to day, imagining he was here for short time periods to talk or touch base with, but that in reality, he was gone from this world and I was all alone, handling everything on my own and just “make-believing” I had a partner to do life with.  I was so grateful when I woke up that it was just a dream!  And it hilariously (and horrifically) reminded me of those women a few years ago in the media who were so lonely, they started having romantic relationships with ghosts! LOL  But I can’t deny that it had an element of truth to it in that being a police wife can sometimes feel like being a “married single mom,” even when our husbands go above and beyond to be there for us and our children!
Supporting one’s husband is something I’ve written about before in a more general sense for any wife, here.   It can be extremely stressful being a Police Officer’s wife due to the particular circumstances that come with that career.  The difficult family-schedules, the missing out on birthdays, major holidays, and weekends and special days with family members can be hard on not just the wife, but also your children.  And the unique struggles a police family faces aren’t something I think a wife should navigate alone.  We need neighbors who we feel connected to, supportive family members who can help out when our husbands can’t be there, loving friends who understand our limitations with our husband’s odd schedule or rules, and mentors who can guide us when we have questions and fears about this life, and in emotionally navigating the ups and downs of the political environment saying police officers are the enemy.
Ame, from BlendingAme has been such a mentor and friend to me, giving me very cherished advice and encouragement.  This post is from an email she wrote to me months ago, (and repurposed so that it can be for any police wife reading this).
From Ame:
~ ❤ ~

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

*
Before we took our first breath, every day of our life was ordained, written. There is no exception.
It is hard to remember that God has given each of us our own “Death Date,” and NOTHING we do or think or imagine will change that date. Our Death Date was set before the foundation of the world, so your life, your husband’s life, our children’s lives, everyone’s life – and every single day of our lives – were set before the foundation of the world.
 
Are there some who live lives with higher risk of death? Sure. Does that mean their Death Date will come too soon or unexpectedly to God who created every day of their lives? No. We cannot alter our Death Date.
 
The reality is … we all die. People die. At every age and for every reason imaginable. I know a man who works for his county’s Medical Examiner’s office, and he has seen just about every kind of death that is common and many that aren’t … at all ages … expected and unexpected. He has worked in this role for his large county for seven or eight years, and in all that time he knows of only one Police Officer’s death in the line of duty. Do officers of all agencies die in the line of duty? Sure. Is it unexpected to God? Never.
 
Your husband has chosen a very noble career as a Police Officer. It is who he is. He cannot change who God created him to be; neither can he change his Death Date by being and becoming that man. Asking him to choose between you and being a Police Officer is asking him to choose between who he is and who you want him to be, and what kind of choice is that? He would hate you because he’d hate himself, and you would hate him for caving in to you.
 
It is hard, sometimes, to accept our husbands and who they are, as they are. I remember a time when my husband and I had a conversation, and to do something that would obviously be beneficial to him, he flat out said to me, “I will not do that.” There is nothing I can do but to accept it, let it go,  and still choose to respect and honor him. His life is in God’s hands, not mine … not even his.
 
I have a friend whose husband works in a very high-security position with a good amount of stress. Although she has a good degree and had a good career before having children, they decided she would become a stay-at-home-mom when they had their first baby. So, she quit her job and her career when their first baby was born many years ago, and she hasn’t gone back. He is the first one to tell you that the reason he successfully do all that he does in his job is because she takes care of everything at home.
 
Your husband has that kind of job that demands an enormous amount from him. It demands everything from him. It forms who he is as much as who he is was made for this job. In that kind of situation, it’s like God is the CEO, and you are both Exec VP’s over the two divisions of your corporation: he runs everything outside the home; you run everything inside the home. He being the Senior Exec VP is the one you will always report to; never the other way around.
 
Do not focus on those whose husbands are home more than yours. Do not focus on those whose husbands do more outside of their job/career/profession than yours. Focus only on your husband. Focus only on who God created you to be and become and where He has placed you.
 
The risk of death is always there. For all of us. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. No one. It’s shocking to me how little it takes for someone to die … and also how resilient people are. Seemingly benign things take people into the next life all the time, and yet humanity has survived vicious wars, plagues, illnesses, and poverty since the beginning of time.
 
My first husband traveled extensively, and in the early years of our marriage I would worry myself sick. I desperately needed to hear his voice to know his plane made it, he didn’t have a wreck of any kind on the way, or nothing else freaky happened to him.
Finally one day I just got it. I got that God’s got all this, and my worrying about it would not change a thing. Either he would come home, or someone would knock on my door. And not a moment of worry would change that. 
 
My late Mentor taught me many things, one of which was to only live things once as I experience them in reality. When I worry, I let my imagination go wild and create all these possible scenarios. When I do that I live through things that aren’t even real yet affect my whole being. 
 
When you live wondering all the time about if or when Patrick will die in the line of duty, you are doing two things. One, you are living an imaginative experience that is not reality and yet is depleting you as though it is reality. And two, you are living his future death (which is guaranteed, by the way, unless Jesus comes back first 😉 ) over and over and over ad nauseam. That does NO one any good, especially you and your children and your marriage. 
 
Have a plan in place written down that is easily accessible. Review it once a year with your husband, and then force yourself to forget about it. You are prepared for “what if.” If you spend your time worrying about “what if,” you are taking away time and energy and emotion from yourself, your husband who is alive right now, your children, and what God wants you to do right now, today.  Don’t do that anymore. You only need to live through your husband’s death once – whether you’re on this side of eternity or the next when he passes through to the other side. 
  ❤
I hope her words bless you like it did me.  It’s hard to trust God with the outcome of our husband’s being in danger, and managing the home-front mostly on our own.  But even in the midst of struggle to find balance or fighting off feelings of guilt that we’re not doing “enough” like other families are able to, I’ve found that the joy and love in even a circumstantially-stressful marriage can far outweigh the trials or hardships one goes through.
I hope any police wife out there reading this knows you are not alone ❤ !
Stephanie
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Leaf-ing a Legacy

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This start to the new school year has been so nice and calm, and very welcomed!  Even though I have moments of missing the relaxing summer days – and moments where I can’t believe it went so fast!! – it’s still nice to be able to get back into a stricter routine and learning and everything that comes with Fall ❤  I love all the seasons, but each year I still feel like this one is my favorite.

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Baby in a Cupboard

I love all the school supplies, too 😀  The new pencils, the erasers, the notebooks, the binders – it all actually gets me excited… as nerdy as that sounds!

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She thinks this is her “house!”

I also love this time of year, because it means I organize the early school preparation for our kids, and our second boy is old enough now to really get into practicing letters, numbers, counting, hand-writing, and learning about the world – for 3 years olds 😛  I have no idea why this makes me so happy – I didn’t train to be a teacher or anything, but somehow helping him learn and do his “classwork” is SO fulfilling and fun for me.  It was the same with our oldest, too.

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I like starting early with our kids, at age 3, which I know sounds super early, but I found it really helped our oldest be prepared for the scholastic environment of sitting for certain periods of time, doing work at a desk, and focusing for that long.  Especially for boys, it’s important they’re able to handle the environment to do well in school and beyond.  It was good that he was able to go into kindergarten already knowing how to write, spell some words, read 3-letter words, and do basic addition and subtraction.

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Our second son does his work while listening to classical piano music.  We’re musical eclectics in this house 😉 and depending on the time and mood, we listen to many different kinds of music 😀 .  With the timeless music flowing through the house, it feels so peaceful and just transcendental.  Both my parents played piano ❤ so there’s probably that element that makes me feel at home with it on as well.

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Homeschooling for toddlers is pretty easy.  I usually copy pages from 3-4 different books for kindergartners on writing the alphabet, numbers, shapes, matching exercises, and sometimes easy word “problems.”  I copy them so that our other children will be able to use those same books 🙂 .  Saves money, and allows for each child to have their own personal “notebook” of the work they did from 3-5 years old ❤ .

 

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Hopefully he’ll learn all his numbers and be able to write or recognize them by Christmas, that’s the plan for Fall.  And then in the Spring semester he’ll probably start on sounding out 3-letter words, copying short sentences for his writing class, and adding and subtracting as a primer for mathematics.

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We do art classes sometimes, too, nothing too big, but today we made things out of molding clay that my parents brought this past weekend.  He made a bowl with a textured design inside.  I’m actually really excited to see how it turns out once it dries and he can paint it!!  And our little one made a beautiful hand impression ❤  Love doing things like this!

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He’s using a real bowl lined with plastic to allow his pottery to dry in the bowl-like shape.

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Sometimes it feels like the days are endless streams of Groundhog Day 😀 but I try to trust the process that the little things we’re doing now will hopefully sink into their hearts forever.  They’re my legacy ❤ and I hope they’ll know they’re treasured.

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I’m in a book club this year for moms and we’re going through “The Mission of Motherhood,” by Sally Clarkson.  The book’s focus is on how to make our children feel cherished and loved, with a call to go back to biblical and traditional motherhood.  I haven’t read past the first chapter, but it sounds good so far, and encourages women to stay home to raise their children, at least when they’re young.

Seeing how fast our oldest has grown (**major tears**) makes me treasure the baby stages even more so!  I cannot believe how fast time flies by – it’s almost not fair in way, but of course they have to grow up and grow into adults.  I want them to know that home is ALWAYS here, and that they can always come back and feel loved and cherished and encouraged in their futures.

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It’s harder to find time to read online or write these days, but I love how the days are filled with SO much to do, and maybe the school year makes me feel more productive in that way.

Hope all you readers are having a wonderful start to the fall season!  Eat lots of seasonal foods and drink some delicious fall drinks, please!

Stephanie

 

Spiritual Darkness & Sacrificing Children?

Last year, I read a fellow female blogger write that we shouldn’t dare judge pedophiles.  I had just had our baby at the time and trying to avoid reading too much online, but even just glancing at her article made me disturbed a Christian was promoting this.  I put it out of my mind and didn’t come back to it until well after our baby girl was born.  This author not only called for Christians to not judge pedophiles, she even went so far as to express herself finding humor in other Christians being outraged by it when they try to promote a Christian character of grace (calling their attitude of showing grace ironic in their outrage against pedophiles).  She asked her readers if they really thought they were a “better person” than a child molester.  It’s a question made to make Christians feel guilty for having moral standards when it comes to the treatment of our children.

In light of the recent news of yet again, the Catholic Church using it’s parishes as harbors of safety for pedophiles, I’m wondering if this same attitude of “Oh we shouldn’t judge them – they’re just normal sinners like we are.  Who are we to say that pedophiles are bad?” is somehow complicit in this?  When even Christ followers are encouraging their fellow Christians to view harming children as the same as a lesser sin, are we creating a Christian culture that promotes pedophilia because we’re too afraid of being called “judgmental” or “self-righteous” for judging them and removing them from the church?

I remember back when this was the motto all Christians were encouraging each other in order to accept homosexuals and in effort to make that particular sin not seem “so bad.”  Instead of promoting a healthy culture of giving each other grace, however, this attitude that homosexuals weren’t to be judged because we’re sinners, too, quickly devolved into accepting their behavior in the church as “just another type of sin we all commit.”  And then accepting ministry members who were openly gay, and then worship leaders, and eventually homosexual Pastors and Priests who were openly gay.  I remember seeing it all happen and thinking it very surreal that any Christian would fall for this kind of satanic deception that we were never supposed to judge homosexual behavior and separate ourselves from it.

Now it’s been happening again with pedophilia, the ironic part is that, like in this woman’s post, the exact same wording is being used as it was back in the 80’s and 90’s, in order to make Christians feel like they’re “self-righteous” if they judge these sins for what they are.  This is the systematic way Satan was able to infiltrate the church with accepting homosexuality, by telling Christians it was “just another sin,” that they “were no better” and “shouldn’t judge it or them because of their own sins.”  It is Satan using Christian forgiveness, humility and grace and twisting it to render the church unable to defend itself against diabolical evils seeking to infiltrate it.  In other words, it’s meant to “noramlize” or “desensitize” Christians into accepting homosexuality, and now, like we’ve seen, pedophilia as well.

The woman telling us not to judge pedophiles has since deleted all her blog posts including the one mentioned here, but the internet is forever, and her post is still available online.  The trusty Way Back Machine will forever and always archive this woman’s blog post found here, if you scroll down to April 6, 2017.

Children are God’s treasures, and the Bible tells us that anyone who corrupts an innocent will have a fate worse than having a millstone hung around their neck and drowned (Matthew 18:6, Luke 17:2, Mark 9:42).  Clearly, Christians should not be encouraging each other to view pedophilia as “just another sin” to be accepted into the folds of Christianity.

Anyway, where does this come from, this idea that pedophiles should not be judged, but viewed with constant grace and (basically) allowed to continue their raping of children?  Where does it come from in the church where of anyone, our leaders should be protecting it’s own children?

Are we sacrificing our children on the alter of political correctness, in order not to offend homosexuals and pedophiles?

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Every Place Your Foot Treads Will Be Yours

I was reading this morning in Deuteronomy, and copied into my journal one of my favorite passages of encouragement from chapter 8:2-10.  It is a passage of remembrance of how God brought the Jews out of slavery, and then guided them in the wilderness.  I’ve started a daily challenge where I focus on one of the fruits of the Spirit each day, and today’s fruit was Patience.

When copying the Scripture into my journal, in light of the fruit of patience, it struck me again, just how hard this was for them to wait for 40 years for God’s promise to come to fruition, wandering around the desert, waiting for Him to act.  And indeed, God says that it was a time of testing, where He humbled them by letting them go hungry (vs 3).  A time where He gave them manna to eat so that they might learn that man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord!

Then in another passage in chapter 11, God commands them to impress all these truths on their hearts and souls.  To teach these truths to their children in the morning, throughout the day, and before going to bed.  And then He promises them this –

“For if you carefully observe every one of these commands I am giving you to follow – to love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, and remain faithful to Him – the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will drive out nations greater and stronger than you are.  Every place the sole of your foot treads will be yours.  Your territory will extend from the wilderness to Lebanon and from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea.

No one will be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put fear and dread of you in all the land where you set foot, as He has promised you.” (vs. 22-25)

If you’re familiar with the devastating results of the Israelites’ endeavor to take on the people existing in the Promise Land, then it shouldn’t surprise you that they didn’t believe God when He told them this.  God blatantly assures them that, “Every place the sole of your foot treads will be yours,” and that “No one will be able to stand against you,” for He would “put fear and dread of you in all the land where you set foot.”   It left me wondering this morning, why did they not believe God, and go out with confidence to conquer their enemies?

Every place the sole of your foot treads will be yours….  It does sound improbable, how could they have such assurance that they would succeed?  And yet the God of the Universe was telling them this!  Some of their enemies they needed to go out to fight and conquer were descendants of giants – just seeing them when they scouted out the territory, terrified them into backing down.

From here

“The Devil knew this promise to the seed of Abraham and he set 31 hostile nations right in the middle of the Promised Land to stand in fierce opposition to Israel seizing their inheritance. Most of these nations were advanced in weaponry and warfare and were ferocious warriors against any enemies. The Bible calls many of the men, giants, champions of wickedness, which were physically beyond anything that mankind had ever seen. These giants roamed the Promised Land with the express purpose to keep Israel out so they would never experience the promise and the blessing that flowed from it.”

It made me think about how not only do we usually lack the patience to do the necessary waiting God calls us to in our own lives, but we also probably lack the degree of faith in God’s promise for us for our futures.

When the Israelites saw the giants they lost their faith in God’s assurance of protection –

The men of Israel cried in fear-“We are but grasshoppers compared to these giants and they are of great stature and they will eat us up.” They did not go into the Promised Land because of fear of these giants and they had no faith in their God to overcome them.

God cried out:

The LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?

Numbers 14:11

How did they fear the giants and evil nations in their land, when God promised them the assurance of protection and victory, it’s hard for me to comprehend?

“Every place the sole of your foot treads will be yours.”

If only they had believed God and had courage to face their enemies and to keep living in obedience to His Word.  If only they had believed His promises that He was with them, and would lead them to victory over their battles in life (both against enemies and in fighting against their own idolatrous ways in their hearts).

In Numbers, only Joshua and Caleb were confident enough in God’s faithfulness.  How much more so that we should also have confidence in God like Joshua and Caleb did, because we have the New Testament books giving us the knowledge of Christ’s Resurrection.

Not Quite Ready to Be Back Yet!

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We’ve been back for a little while, getting ready for the new school year.  I’m a little sad to be back in a way!!  Being out at the lake was so relaxing and just a dramatic break away from city life and noise and stress-stuff around us.

The beauty was breathtaking, and it was nice being surrounded by it day and night.

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We were camping in an RV though, so take that as you may 😀  Camping with toddlers and babies is a lot of work, even with the ease of living in an RV!  But it was a great experience and everyone had a lot of fun.  Lots of campout foods and s’mores every single night around a glowing campfire!!  What’s not to love about stuff like that?!?

One of the things I appreciated the most was getting to see the sunsets with our kids!  This may sound nuts, but as a mom with little ones who go to bed at a decent bedtime, we rarely ever get to see a sunset!!  LOL  So we were mesmerized by them… each night!

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This picture below has no filter!  The sky actually looked like this as the sun was setting!

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There’s just something about water and being next to it that gets to me.  I loved watching our kids play out there and soaked up every moment of it.

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It always strengthens my faith, too, when seeing beauty like this.  It was like living inside a painting… just surreal at times.

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Love!

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I usually would wake up super early before everyone else so I could get coffee going and try to spend some alone time reading the Bible.  The early mornings felt so fresh and glorious, it’s hard to describe just how “alive” everything all felt out there in the wilderness.

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We also explored the surrounding little country towns, we adventured through their libraries and playgrounds and parks.

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I could almost picture hobbits sitting here!

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The higher up views of the lake from on top of a hill were just incredible!  Our oldest son helped me take these pictures.

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One thing I absolutely loved was getting to indulge in “vacation foods” like lots of bacon and fluffy pancakes for breakfasts. I liked cooking things like that every morning in the RV and eating together before we headed out for the day at the lake.

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We had a couple of adventures that were pre-planned like going to a ranch for rescued or retired horses, and then seeing a history museum in a near-by country town.  Things like that are either really cheap, or even free (like the horse ranch).

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Our kids unfortunately haven’t ever been around horses, this fact actually surprised me since I grew up around cows and horses that our neighbors had.  So it was great getting to see them take in how magnificent and strong these beautiful animals are.  And since many of them were older and retired (some military horses and even one race horse!) they were calmer and seemed easy-going.

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We brought cut up carrots to feed them as treats.

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It was sweet ❤

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I think this picture was cute the way they were all poking their heads out to greet us 😀

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And then we saw dinosaurs!!!

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I wore a light cotton sundress, and thank goodness because it was SUPER hot out there!

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But with the life-sized dinosaurs on the loose in the park, these two decided to stay inside the wagon LOL

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They also got to dig for dinosaur bones.  Just really awesome stuff!

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It was hot, but well worth it!  I mean to be a kid and play like you’re really digging out dinosaur bones 😀 they really enjoyed this place!

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And little sister (kind of) tried to help 😉 LOL

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And the museum was really cool, too!

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I think my favorite part was the campfires at night and making the s’mores!

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And…. we celebrated our 11 YEAR ANNIVERSARY out there!!!!!!  We put lights up around the picnic table and eating area, it was all so very romantic, although probably not in the conventional way of thinking lol, but we had fun!

In the day, this was part of our view…

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But at night, the lights sparkled different colors!

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The fire itself was just so beautiful.  And nothing beats tasty campfire s’mores!

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I am very excited for fall, and to start up the school year, but it IS sad how fast the summer flew by.  I’m ready for the change of the seasons, but I wish time would just slow. down. at least a little!

Thank you for reading & I hope everyone else had a good end to their summer.

Stephanie

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Living By Faith Is Probably the Most Important Thing We’ll Ever Show You

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Not that we do it perfectly, but we are striving to set an example of what it looks like to live your life based upon total faith in God so that you and your brothers see our faith lived out as a witness to how great and faithful God, Himself, is.

Ever since the beginning of our marriage, before we even had kids, we knew we wanted to leave a legacy of faith within the hearts of our children – one that would hopefully extend far beyond our reach to the generations to come.  In the Proverbs 31 series, we looked at specific people from history – particularly the mothers since I am a mother – who by living out their faith in front of their children, were able to have faithful descendants that multiplied enormously in just 100 years time.  We looked at how dramatically this affected our nation by producing so many productive, Christian, members of society.  We connected the family that was tracked with the Parable of the Sower:

“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”  Matthew 13:8

The Goal of a Christian’s Life Should Be to Be Used By God

We also want you to understand that the goal of a Christian’s life, should be to be used by God.  And when one lives by faith, God uses them more than the average Christian.  This is a topic that would seem controversial, because it sounds so unfair.  But like we learned in my book detailing the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31, women respond differently to God depending on the soil of their hearts.  The good thing is that we control the kind of soil we keep, which represents the way we respond to God asking us to obey Him.

The way you’re currently obey God affects your entire outlook on life, but especially your motivation to develop a strong, courageous kind of faith.

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We also learned that God gives out spiritual gifts and abilities unequally, when we looked at the Parable of the Talents in the Proverbs 31 woman series.  We may be given spiritual gifts unequally, but it is fair in that God doesn’t expect from someone with only the capacity of 1 talent, to give Him a return of 10 when He inspects their efforts.  He expects we do our part with what we are given, but He is not a cruel master or unfair in expecting more from someone who doesn’t have that ability.

That said, there’s something God wishes for all of us to have equally, that will develop a heart of good soil and help us to do incredible things for Him in seen or unseen ways!  It doesn’t take having 10 talents, or even being a Type A Super Go-Getter kind of woman, this is something He desires for all people, and it is the single determining factor that explains how much God will use you in your life to do His work.

I heard a sermon maybe a month ago, which brought all this into a much more concise and understandable reason as to why God does use some people more than others, and how this greatly blesses them, and makes their life far more fulfilling.  This chapter is entirely based upon the thoughts of Chip Ingram, in understanding why God has more favor on, or tends to use some people, more than others.

We want to help you develop into the kind of woman whom God will use much more than just the average woman!  Not only were you prophesied over as an infant, but you come from a long legacy of faith from both your sides of your family.  You’ve come from people who have helped birth Christianity not only in their own families, but even in their communities by becoming Pastors and teachers of God’s Word.

You are related to a man who was even martyred for his faith in God.  Withstanding persecution is in your blood.

And we’re not talking about something grand, although it is possible that God would call you to something like that, it’s much more likely that you will impact His kingdom for good in extremely powerful, but almost unnoticeable ways.

The Most Important Thing to Be Used By God

All it takes to do more than the average Christian, to be used by God, and have more favor and blessings on your life, is faith.

That’s all it is, but it is SO PROFOUND.  This one thing – your faith in God – will determine the entire course of your life.  And I’m not talking about “faith” in that you prescribe to a certain religion (faith) and believe it’s the right one like Catholicism or Orthodox Christians.  But actually having a strong relationship with God where you read His Word every morning, spend lots of time praying to Him and knowing Him through His Word.

We want you to have the kind of faith that is real – believing what God said and ACTING on it in your real life.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  2 Cor. 5:7

We want you to see us having the kind of faith where we act on it when we feel like it, and we act on it especially when we don’t feel like it.  You will have this kind of faith, as well.

We act on it when it makes sense, and we act on it when it sounds like the dumbest thing in the world.

Faith is believing God – He commends it, He rewards it, He justifies you by faith.  It is probably the most important thing in your life, Little One, learning how to fully have faith in God and allow that to direct all the rest of your life.  It is probably the single determining factor for how well you will do in your Christian life.

For we walk by faith, not by sight!!

 

He uses people who don’t shrink back when facing insult, persecution, etc.

It’s not enough to just be religious and attend church.  You need to stand your ground for the hard stuff, and take whatever Satan brings on.  Christians who are used by God because they live by faith, will often have to face suffering and public exposure to ridicule, slander, criticism and even if it comes to it – confiscation of their property, imprisonment, and death.

Yes, even though this may not be a popular message (although ironically it is so needed at this time), we’re called to have a strong faith to persevere and endure ALL things for His sake.  Many Christians honestly just don’t have that kind of faith to not shrink back when even just the slightest beginnings of persecution start to affect their lives.

More than that though, God actually expresses displeasure when a believer shrinks back from persecution.  It proves they don’t have faith in Him or pure motivations in how they were serving Him.

And not only are we called to stand strong in the face of persecution (and not shrink back), we’re supposed to endure all these things without complaining.  It’s not wholesome for a Christian to be whining and complaining about their perceived persecutions, and no, asking for prayers during a time of persecution is not whining or complaining (typically).

We’re called to endure persecution, slander, judgment, public ridicule, imprisonment, torture or death, joyfully and confidently, so that we come out in victory through God and bring glory to Him for allowing us to stand and not cringe or shrink back from our persecutors.  In other words, yes, it’s better to die for Christ than to shrink back or complain about being persecuted.  From what I’ve seen, it’s sadly normal to find that Christian women shrink back VERY readily and fast – much to their shame and dishonor of their God.

Hebrews 10:32

Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings.

Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companionsof those who were treated that way.  For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession.

So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.

“For in yet a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.  But My     righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (The author is quoting from Habbakuk)

Did you see that?

“But My righteous one will live by faith;

and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

He’s quoting from Habakkuk here (it’s always been like this – that the righteous live by faith even during times of light or severe persecution).  This is our history, Christian women, God’s Word (both the Old and the New Testament) is timeless.

So now that you have a fuller understanding of the kind of faith that pleases God, you know it’s not for the faint-hearted.  Its not for people who give up or shrink back to just doing the minimum of Christianity so that they’re not persecuted anymore – that is, and has always been, the temptation.  Shrinking back from persecution, as we saw in Scripture, displeases God and brings shame upon the woman who does it.

 

It’s HARD to live by faith

We are slowly facing increasing opposition and the beginnings of actual persecution that will probably get much worse in our lifetime.  Just recently in California, banners and posters were approved to be hung at a popular mall for a normal, run-of-the-mill Christian speaking event for Pastor Greg Laurie.  Enough people complained, and even made threats because the posters showed a Bible, that the mall went back on it’s initial approval and ordered the Christian ads torn down.  Many Christians in California who were in shock over this decision to not allow normal Christian advertisement (which until now, has been allowed for decades), are now calling themselves the “underground church of California.”  

This is a big deal, sweet girl, and we believe it will slowly start spreading to other states.  Opposition to Christian speaking events, or even to Bible studies in your neighborhood, is going to become the norm, and you have to be strong enough to have faith anyway.  You’ll have the burden of teaching your own children to have strong enough faith in their time.  But it’s not enough to just have faith (or rather to say you have faith but hide it or be silent), like we saw in Hebrews 10, you will need to be bold enough to stand firm for your faith, even in the face of harsh punishments.  The good thing about times like what is coming is that persecution often re-ignites the church’s fire.  Many Christians (who don’t have a strong faith to withstand persecution) will simply fall away or “shrink back,” like Hebrews 10 talks about (displeasing God), and the Christians bold enough to keep standing, will end up shaping the backbone of the re-birthed church.  Throughout many times in the Bible we can see this happen with God’s people.  There is always a Remnant, and we can always depend on God, the One who brought us out of Egypt, to be faithful.

Faith can be developed, but it takes having an attitude of humility

The great thing is that even if one has failed in this area, it’s never too late to turn around and start living your life by faith – but it must be now.  That decision to walk boldly following God, needs to be firmly decided in your heart and mind, and then lived out everyday.

The main way to grow a strong faith like this, is to begin every morning with reading God’s Word – giving Him your first fruits.  There is no other way to live by faith if you’re not spending time knowing Him, understanding His commands, and loving that time with Him.  I know it sounds legalistic, but it’s just a logical thing that one cannot live by faith and not be spending regular time reading God’s Word and talking to Him about their life.  If you want a vibrant faith, if you want more favor on your life, to be used more than just your average Christian who merely attends church, but shrinks back at the slightest signs of persecution, then you need to be in His Word daily in order to strengthen you for what you will face.

Hebrews 10:38

“But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.”

So right after we see that shrinking back from persecution makes God Himself have “no pleasure” in us, we also see that the writer of Hebrews is commending them that they are not people who shrink back and are destroyed – but instead are those who have faith (in persecution) and obtain life!

How dramatic that if one “shrinks back” from their persecution, that God says they are “destroyed.”  I don’t think that always has to mean in a physical manner or literal death.  I think being “destroyed” because they’ve shrunk back from persecution is probably a more figurative thing – a total losing of their motivation or purpose in following God (a Christian’s only true purpose).  Shrinking back from persecution and being “destroyed,” could also mean a shipwreck of their faith in a way.  Once they know they’ve utterly failed in pleasing God, what is there to go on for?

Without FAITH it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God

And we must note that these last verses of Hebrews 10, talking about the importance of enduring and not shrinking back, come right before the famous chapter of Hebrews 11, where all the heroes of faith from the Old testament are remembered and honored.  So this was an encouragement leading up to the Hebrews 11 passage, an encouragement to live by faith – because honestly, it is the only thing that will matter in this life.

“But we are NOT those who shrink back and are destroyed, but those who have FAITH and obtain LIFE!”